Last universal common ancestor evolved in hydrothermal environment: Study

Last universal common ancestor evolved in hydrothermal environment: Study

Many scientists believe that all life-forms have evolved from a common, primitive ancestor, possibly a micro organism. A new study has shed light on this early organism and the environment in which it could have evolved.

The research paper published in Nature Microbiology has unveiled that the ‘last universal common ancestor’ is a hypothetical, very early single cell from which all life on earth could have started. DNA sequencing has provided a highly quantitative measure of genetic relatedness.

In the new study, the researchers have used an advanced state-of-the-art method to organize some 6 million sequenced prokaryotic genes into families. The researchers then looked for similarities in all bacterial groups and came across a small set of genes present in both archaea and bacteria.

It could be said that these genes were inherited from a common ancestor. The study researchers have said that the findings are important because they have identified a specific group of bacteria (clostridia) and archaea (methanogens) having early versions of those genes, meaning that they are very ancient and akin to very earliest organisms.

The nature of genes also unveils the type of environment in which the last common ancestor had lived. According to the researchers, the world in which these organisms lived around four billion years back was quite different than the one in which we are now living.

At that time, there was no oxygen. The common ancestor used to obtain energy from hydrogen gas most probably produced by geochemical activity in earth’s crust. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen have provided the basic building blocks to make all cellular structures.

The researchers have suggested that these organisms have evolved in a hydrothermal environment. But it shall however, be noted there is no way to verify the results.